FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Two Puget Sound mall shootings within days of each other prompted the mayor of Federal Way to think more about combating violent crime in the region.
Two people were shot at a parking lot near the JC Penney store at Southcenter Mall in Tukwila on Nov. 24, the evening before Thanksgiving.
Tukwila Police said the shooting victims were sent to the hospital in critical condition. Their names have not been released, but a GoFundMe page for the victims' families said the people shot were ages 17 and 18.
Another shooting at Tacoma Mall on Friday also sent a person to the hospital.
"Just the mere fact that I have to ask myself, 'which mall shooting?' shows there's a real problem regionally with gun violence," said Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell.
Ferrell is now hoping the mayors of cities in south King County will collectively stop violent criminals.
"These folks are moving up and down the I-5 corridor," said Ferrell. "We are all connected and we all need to link up arms and do everything we can to make sure we are holding people accountable."
In a social media post this week, Ferrell said he has reached out to the mayors of Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwila to ask King County officials and the county prosecuting attorney's office to help their cities fight violent crime. Ferrell also contacted the administrative offices of Des Moines and SeaTac about the endeavor.
"We're going to be talking about ways to make sure we communicate this clearly to our legislators, that they need to address what we believe is essentially the de facto legalization of hard drugs," said Ferrell.
Ferrell referred to state legislation that went into effect this year that he said makes it more difficult for police to make drug-related arrests.
He hopes 13 additional Federal Way police officer positions, recently approved by the city council, will help fight crime. But hiring for those positions can be a months-long process.
"I could tell you the real specific steps that we're taking is increasing patrols, increasing overtime, adding officers in key specific locations," said Ferrell.
Ferrell is also organizing a "retail safety summit" in January to address smash-and-grab organized theft incidents, which Ferrell said is also on the rise.